Spain’s National Commission for the 4th Centenary of the Death of Miguel de Cervantes met in full session on Tuesday, to approve the Official Program of activities and associated tax incentives with which it is intended to celebrate the most emblematic author from Spanish literature.
According to the Spanish government, 229 projects have already been approved for the commemoration, although the Official Program will remain open until April 23 for those creators, agents and institutions wishing to take part to present their proposals.
The goal for this 4th centenary is to increase access by the general public to the life, work and times of Miguel de Cervantes. To do so, the Official Program is based around three key areas: firstly, an extensive cultural programme at both national and international levels to include exhibitions, concerts, theatrical productions and tours, dance, film festivals, congresses, conferences and an exhaustive list of educational activities aimed at the promotion of reading. Secondly, academic research on Cervantes, his work and his legacy, with criteria based on a strictly scientific approach. Finally, popularization of the life and works of Cervantes by using 21st Century tools for both the digitization of collections and social communication of content.
The commemoration aims to further develop academic research and knowledge regarding Cervantes and his work by supporting such projects as the Cervantes Encyclopaedia and the Digital Cervantes Portal. Also worth highlighting are the virtual and digitalisation experiences, such as: the microsite created by the National Library of Spain (Spanish acronym: BNE) through which it facilitates general public access to all the preserved Don Quijote collections; the creation of an online catalog of collections kept by State museums managed under the Directorate-General of Fine Arts related to the life, work and times of this author; and the virtual exhibition organized by the Subdirectorate-General of State Archives of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport.
It is hoped that all these actions will have a positive effect on cultural tourism, especially in those autonomous regions associated with the life journey taken by the author and the various routes depicted in his work.
The projects so far approved by the commission include an exhibition organized by the National Library of Spain (BNE) and Acción Cultural Española (AC/E) entitled Miguel de Cervantes: de la vida al mito 1616-2016, which will officially open on March 2, to which Their Majesties the King and Queen of Spain have been invited.
The following exhibitions are also of particular importance: 16 personajes que maravillan y Miguel de Cervantes by AC/E; Quijotes por el mundo by the Cervantes Institute and AC/E; Forges y Cervantes, organised by the Regional Government of Madrid; and Cervantes 2016: la poética de la libertad en la Catedral de Cuenca, supported by the Regional Government of Castile-La Mancha.
The City Council of Madrid and the Local Council of Alcalá de Henares have also organized a large number of activities at venues associated with the life and times of Miguel de Cervantes. For example, in Madrid, the municipal public libraries will exhibit Miguel de Cervantes en tu Biblioteca and La corte de las Letras; Cervantes y el Madrid de su época at the Imprenta Municipal – Artes del Libro. In Alcalá de Henares, an extensive program of activities based on public participation have been prepared.
Digitalisation projects and virtual experiences are another important part of the program. Google will be involved in many of them, through the Google Cultural Institute, by offering support to the institutions that form part of the National Commission for both the task of digitalizing their Cervantes content and its communication via its platform. This will allow many of the exhibitions scheduled in Spain to be accessible from anywhere in the world via the Internet.
Other digital projects in the pipeline include the microsite created by the National Library of Spain (BNE) through which it facilitates access by the general public to all the preserved Don Quijote collections; the creation of an online catalogue of collections kept by State museums managed under the Directorate-General of Fine Arts related to the life, work and times of this author; and the virtual exhibition organized by the Subdirectorate-General of State Archives of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport.
A wide range of musical and theatrical activities are being organised by the Spanish National Performing Arts and Music Institute (Spanish acronym: INAEM), such as the concerts entitled Miguel de Cervantes: viajes y utopías and Danzas y Andanzas cervantinas and the Don Quijote Ballet by the National Dance Company, which will tour Spain, Mexico before ending at the Lincoln Center in New York.
Private cultural initiative is also getting involved in this commemoration. The Liceo de Barcelona will debut a musical entitled El Hombre de La Mancha under the direction of Mario Gas, while the Teatro de la Abadía in Madrid will host Los Entremeses by José Luis Gómez.
The commemoration will adopt a significantly international scope through actions by Acción Cultural Española, the Spanish embassies, the cultural centers of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (Spanish acronym: AECID) and the Cervantes Institute, which will allow celebration of the Year of Cervantes to be present in almost every country with a Spanish diplomatic presence.
The main events comprising the 4th Centenary will take place in a large number foreign cities, from Moscow to Shanghai and from Buenos Aires to Nakamura. In those cases where a physical tour is impossible, such as the exhibition to be opened at the National Library of Spain, virtual versions have been prepared for an international tour.
Given the special ties between Miguel de Cervantes and Ibero-America, the commemoration will have special resonance on this continent. Spain will be the guest country this year at the prestigious Cervantes Festival in Guanajuato (Mexico) and at the Cervantes Festival in Uruguay, with substantial involvement by Spanish companies through performances dedicated to Cervantes and various exchange projects. Buenos Aires and Santiago will also host significant activities.
Special attention has also been paid to collaboration with the British authorities due to this commemoration coinciding with the fourth centenary of the death of William Shakespeare. Efforts have been made to schedule a number of conferences, congresses, professor residence exchanges and the publication in English and Spanish of unseen texts on the two authors organized in collaboration with Acción Cultural Española, the Spanish Embassy, the Universidad de Alcalá and such British institutions as the British Council, the Hay Festival, the British Spanish Society, the University of Oxford and Queen Mary University of London.
However, the centenary will not only be celebrated in the major western capitals. The universal interest in Cervantes will be reflected through the Spanish Embassies in such countries as Guinea-Conakry, Mali and Niger, where – to mention but one project – a comic-illustration with local artists under the slogan of Quijotes en el Níger will be created. There will also be ctivities scheduled to take place in Algeria, where an extensive cultural program has already begun in collaboration with the local authorities.
Educational website with a geo-tagged agenda
As from today, the 4th Centenary has a website at www.400cervantes.es, which, besides being a fundamental platform for the communication and awareness of the activities scheduled around the world, represents an educational tool for further exploring the historical times, work and life of Miguel de Cervantes.